Monday, June 1, 2009

Top U.S. official attends inauguration of leftist as president of El Salvador

Just in case anyone still thought things hadn't changed in Washington, word comes from San Salvador that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended Monday's inauguration of Mauricio Funes as president of El Salvador. Funes is the leader of the FLMN, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the formerly Marxist group that fought a bloody civil war against a series of U.S.-backed governments in the Central American country from 1980 to 1992. The United States was one of 75 nations that sent representatives to the inauguration, according to the Reuters international news service. ""It's a real testament to the strength and durability of democracy in the Americas," Clinton said Sunday as she arrived in El Salvador for a three-day visit to Latin America, Reuters said. Funes said the leftist government he would lead would work with the United States on regional issues such as migration and drug smuggling, and said he would not model himself after anti-U.S. leaders Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. Chavez and Ortega did not attend the inauguration, Reuters said. Funes' cabinet will have more pro-business officials than ex-guerillas, Reuters said. Funes said in his inauguration address that he would work to restore relations with Cuba, a possible source of friction with the United States, which does not have diplomatic relations with Havana despite recent developments. Clinton also is scheduled to travel to Honduras for a meeting of the Organization of American States, at which a majority of members are expected to push to readmit Cuba over U.S. objections. Funes' election in March ended two decades of rule by the pro-U.S. ARENA party. More than 75,000 people, many of them civilians, died in the El Salvador civil war, Reuters said.

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